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I must say, the rock pillars for my environment assignment turned out better than I thought. Here’s how I did it:

First, I created a very low poly model (100ish tris) in maya of the pillar’s shape. Then I threw that into Zbrush and sculpted a very high poly model (over half a million tris). Then I decimated the high poly model to a low(er) poly model. I used xNormal to bake out a normal map using the high and (new) low poly model. Then, I looked for a rock texture I could edit, make seamless, and make a 2×2 tiled diffuse map. I threw that into CrazyBump and got a second normal map. Then I took both normal maps into photoshop and overlayed them to blend the two together. Then, using the lower poly model I got from Zbrush, the combined normal map, and the rock texture, I threw it all together in Maya. From there, I exported the fbx file, and then brought it into the Unreal Engine. With some lighting tweaks, I came up with this result.

Now to fill the scene with 20 more buildings.

Well, that day came and went. Our submission to IGF.

Over the past month, here’s what I would see as noticeable changes we’ve made to the game:

It’s darker, in a couple senses. Yes the “scarecrows” are darker in terms of subject, but the entire games lighting is actually darker. You need a lantern to see, and even then, the lanterns light is limited. We mainly changed the lighting because it just wasn’t scary when it was brighter. Also, as a plus, the game being darker allows us to get by with lower quality textures.

The path you take in the game has also changed. Instead to trying to get from point A to point B, you now start at point B and try to get to get to point C by going to point A a bunch of times.

Lastly, the scarecrow, like mentioned earlier, has changed a bunch. He isn’t even really so much a scarecrow any more. He’s now half a bloody deformed corpse that is used as a scarecrow. He also has tiny glowing white eyes. These really help to make him scary (and they help his visibility).

All in all, we’ve made amazing progress this past month. Can’t wait to see what we’ll have by GDC.

So, in an earlier post, I displayed several images from my environment class. I’m really excited about this one.

Anyway, I have decided to finally tackle Zbrush. I’ll be building the rocks in it. After watching a tutorial (am actually watching it as I post this) it was clear that there was a single brush that really made the rock models look like… well… rocks. It is called the trim dynamic brush. This brush it awesome because it acts like smoothing, except it keeps the rough shape while removing any chaotic detail you would otherwise rid the model of with smooth. So, while you are using the trim dynamic brush, you should also use the clay buildup brush to add mass and detail.

Also mentioned was the slash 3 brush. This, used with clay tubes brush and, again, the trim dynamic brush gives some really nice results.

Changing the alpha shape from the default square shape to a circle can solve some problems, too.

The trim smooth boarder and the trim adaptive brushes were introduced in another tutorial. These are a little more difficult to control, but if use gently and sparingly, they can give some awesome results.


Lately for our thesis game, the team has hunkered down to address one our major concerns: What is our core gameplay mechanic? And even still, after much discussion, I’m not sure everyone is still on the same page. We are close, though. And to be fair, all our “gameplay” is (sadly) pure speculation with no actual game testing. This has been our teams greatest fault, without question. We haven’t been very good at really testing our game. The good news: that will happen this Friday. A gameplay party is going to be held in the lab, and this has really helped us really push for something. Last week we moved the engineers working on the house to work on getting the field working for game testing (which, at first caused panic for those working on the house, but all was cleared up in the end). After Friday, we’ll take what we learn from testing out the game and sprint until we reach our IGF deadline. That deadline is, without a doubt, the scariest thing this Halloween season.

Perched_02_MJR Perched_layout blocking_out

We’ve been going for about 2 weeks now on our game, and I must say, it already looks amazing. It makes me happy.

I absolutely love our team. Everyone is incredible at what they do. As an artist, it’s mostly the engineer’s work that just blows me away. After one week… ONE WEEK… we had a huge cornfield that you could walk through, AND THE CORN WOULD REACT TO YOUR MOVEMENT. I really want to play our game with the Oculus (especially the new one coming out).

The last thing I spend doing was designing a skybox, which I have learned is a lot harder than it seems. I had to find a pre-made skybox, and then alter it so it had the coloring I wanted. I’ll have to go back in and probably add the sand storm into the skybox. I’ve done 3D-skyboxes before in Hammer (Source), but I’m not sure how to do it in Unity, or if it can be done at all. Something to look into.

I know things will only get harder. But if it’s any team I’d want to be on while things are getting harder, it would be this one.


This is a concept of the scarecrow when he is hunting you while inside the farmhouse.

Over the summer, our thesis game had a large pivot. We are essentially building our game from scratch, while keeping the mannequin behavior. Below is my pitch I gave for our new theme:



AMERICANA (working title)


Like discussed in our last team meeting, the full version of this game could possibly be made for GDC, but not for IGF. Therefore the short version of the game’s theme/story (written below) would be the aim for the IGF submission. The long version of the game’s theme/story has an additional setting that would be easily integrated after the IGF submission. Enjoy.




Set in the 1930s, you begin the game in a terrible car accident. Immediately following the accident, you find yourself in a surreal cornfield. Off in the distance, you see a farmhouse. Here, you play out your last moments of life metaphorically. At first, you run from a scarecrow that chases you. He is the inevitable death. But once you make it inside the farmhouse and a giant dust storm destroys the entire cornfield (this being a symbol of the car accident), you discover in the end that you must move on from this life. You find the scarecrow standing in the middle of the destroyed cornfield, waiting for you.




You are driving alone at night. You see no other cars. No buildings. No people. Just the road before you, fading off into the darkness.

While you are driving, when you look away from the road in front of you, it triggers the sequence of an oncoming car coming at you, resulting in a car accident.


Whether you saw the oncoming car or not, the screen immediately goes black and you hear a deafening car crash.



Slowly you begin to wake up. Your vision is blurry.

The surroundings are very bright.


As your vision becomes less blurred, you find yourself sitting in a wheelchair in the middle of a cornfield. Everything feels surreal. Colors feel off: over saturated and dreamlike. You hear ambient echoes, but they sound as if they don’t belong here, like a ringing in your ear, the sound of blood flow, or a faint underwater hum. Off in the distance you see a quaint yet humble farmhouse. Between you and the house stands an ominous scarecrow.


It is clear to you that you need to get to the farmhouse.



As you move forward in your wheelchair, the scarecrow begins to pursue you if he is not watched. If he touches you, the screen goes black and you die.


However, if you arrive at the front door of the farmhouse, the screen goes white.

As you regain your sight from the blinding light, you find yourself in what looks like a dilapidated medical facility. As you look down at yourself, you are horrified by what you see. Just the sight of your mangled body and exposed organs causes you to wonder why you are alive. Yet, somehow, you are kept alive by the countless pieces of mechanical equipment attached to you. You don’t feel like you belong here. Not in this room. Not in this life. You should be dead, but you’re not. But through some crude experiment, you are still here. You must get out. You must escape.

This room is your first real puzzle in the game. Once you solve it, you may leave the room.



After exiting the room, something knocks you out and sedates you.


The screen goes black.


Your vision returns again. This time you find yourself in the farmhouse. As you look out the window, you notice a colossal dust storm approaching. Inside the house with you is the scarecrow. You must make your way to the cellar. Don’t let the scarecrow touch you. Keep an eye on him. He wants you dead.




Once you open the door to the cellar, you peer down the darkened stairs. You are still in a wheelchair. Suddenly you hear a screech. The scarecrow has lunged at you. In a desperate attempt to escape, you fall down the stairs into the black abyss.


The screen goes black.


You wake up in a quarantined room, back in the medical facility. The experiment had gone wrong. They didn’t want you to escape.


But you don’t belong here. You need to get out.


This is another puzzle. It’s more difficult and more dangerous.


Through more difficulty, you finally manage to escape this room. As you exit the room, you enter into a pitch-black room. You are in the cellar of the farmhouse. The door behind you closes. The only light you see is sunlight shining through the cracks of some double-doors, leading to the outside. Once you get to these doors, you open them up, filling the room with sunlight. You miraculously stand up out of your wheelchair and walk up the stairs to the outside.


Your movement is slow.




You step through the cellar doors to the outside. The entire cornfield has been destroyed, and off in the distance, in the middle of all the field’s debris, stands the scarecrow.

EAE day came and went…

…and it was a blast.

Our game was a huge hit and we got excellent feedback. Probably the most common piece of feedback had to do with the player getting lost. Part of me wonders if it mostly had to do with the textures (or the lack of textures) on objects. Everything looked the same, making it confusing where you were at. Also, the layout of the map wasn’t particularly linear, but I’m not sure if we should change that. One suggestion on the navigation was to give the phone some mechanic that would help you navigate the world. Things to look into.

Anyway, here are some awesome pictures of that night:

gamebros AmyPlaying2 AmyFromtheFtr



Mannequin model. This has a temporary texture because the real texture file link was for a different computer.






Player model. No head (for the Oculus) and missing an arm (for separate arm controls).



Arm model. You move it with the right joystick.




Team logo. Sadly will have to change because we’re changing the name.